Online shoppers put off by late deliveries

Retailer Amazon is preparing for what is expected to be the biggest Black Friday yet. Picture: Getty

Retailer Amazon is preparing for what is expected to be the biggest Black Friday yet. Picture: Getty

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A POOR parcel delivery service last Christmas is putting shoppers off buying presents online and forcing them to take extra measures to ensure their presents arrive on time.

One in ten shoppers had a problem with a delivery during the festive period last year, according to a report from consumer group Which? published as online stores gear up for what is expected to be the biggest “Black Friday” yet in UK retailing.

Retailers including Amazon, eBay and Currys have already announced heavy discounts ahead of the busiest shopping day of the year later this week, when many people will begin their Christmas shopping.

The report found items arriving late was the top issue for many shoppers, with many saying they did not get their gifts in time for Christmas and others claiming some presents did not arrive at all.

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One in five people who had problems with a delivery last Christmas has been put off ordering items online this year.

Meanwhile, four in ten of those who had an issue say they will either use a click-and-collect service, have deliveries sent to another address or order items earlier to avoid a last-minute panic.

Which? has launched a Stamp Out Dodgy Deliveries campaign, petitioning shops to sign up to a checklist of criteria including providing specific time slots for deliveries on a named day; informing customers of the estimated delivery time on the day of delivery by phone, e-mail or text, and asking customers to specify at the time of purchase what to do if the delivery is unsuccessful.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “It’s a sorry state of affairs when people are put off buying online because they have had their fingers burned by dodgy deliveries in the past. Retailers need to get a grip and make sure delivery services are first class, first time.”

The survey comes as online retailers prepare for Black Friday – 28 November – the busiest shopping day of the year and the date regarded by retailers as the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Although traditionally an American phenomenon – it falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving when consumers are still on holiday from work – Black Friday and its online counterpart, Cyber Monday, which falls three days later, have in recent years been embraced by UK shoppers.

In 2013, Black Friday saw a 19 per cent increase in visits to retail websites compared with the same period in 2012, while on Cyber Monday last year, consumers logged over 115 million visits to retail websites – a 9 per cent increase from 2012.

Retailers have said they expect this year’s Black Friday to be the biggest yet.

Online shoppers are predicted to spend £1.32 billion over the course of the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend, according to a report from prepaid card provider Pockit and the Centre for Retail Research.

John Coulter, UK retail director of online retailer Ao.com, said: “We’re expecting this Black Friday to be ao.com’s busiest ever.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast becoming firm fixtures in the UK festive shopping calendar.

“This year we are expecting more traffic to our site on these days than we usually get on Boxing Day, when shoppers are firmly in sale mode.”

Last week, online auction site eBay said it expected its busiest day to fall between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with seven million UK shoppers set to use the site on Sunday.

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